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July 04, 2009

Space for Everyone in the New Ford Everest


Jakarta, Like most other Asians, we Indonesians are well known for the cohesiveness of our extended families. We always stick together. The good thing is that we always have people to provide us with support in times of trial and adversity. The downside is, as a friend recently said, the social cost is quite high. When it comes to choosing our family car, the preponderance of the extended family becomes quite obvious. Most of us will look for cars that can carry as many people as possible. Sometimes we even try to beat the odds by choosing an ultra-cramped seven-seater with a very small engine. The fact that the car can hardly pull itself away from a stoplight is of little concern, so long as it can carry three generations of family members.


The Everest is Ford's answer to the problem. This is quite a behemoth seven seater-eight seater, if three children do not mind sharing the back bench seat.
Although the advantage of a diesel engine over its petrol counterpart has diminished since the government adjusted the price of diesel a couple of years back, Ford has chosen a 2,500 cc, 110 horsepower turbo diesel engine with intercooler for this family hauler.

The walk-around

Ford Everest is built on the platform of the immensely popular Ranger light trucks. That is why its total length is almost five meters. While we are enamored by the macho look in the front, the rear end with its high rear lights and roof spoiler looks much too soft to us.
This combination makes us think we are seeing two different personalities in one car.
The rear tailgate also opens to the right and the spare tire is mounted on the rear door. While these features do not exactly delight us, Ford adds a crude, non gas-filled door stopper to ensure us that the door will not slam on our back when we are standing behind it.
Our first suggestion to Everest designers would be to put the spare tire inside, under the cargo floor, and move the door hinges to the top.
Except for these subjective gripes, we actually like the car's overall design. The ground clearance is terrific, all four doors open wide and they close easily. The bumpers are menacing enough to remind bajaj or minibus drivers that they had better be extra careful. The step board makes getting in and out easy.
A recent report from J.D. Power said that American carmakers had improved their workmanship significantly, and this was also obvious in the Ford Everest that we tested.

The Interior

Ford Motor Indonesia (FMI), which is now fully owned by the Ford Motor Company, was kind enough to let us test drive the top model of their Everest, which was the Rp 332.8 million Limited. It has an all-leather trim and a Pioneer CD changer cum MP3 player cum radio that puts my home stereo to shame.
It also features a two-tone body and four by four capability. By the way, the sound system has a remote control, and even a pair of tweeter speakers that are integrated in the A-pillar. The audio quality is simply outstanding.
What would be the use of a superb audio system if the cabin was noisy? Again, Ford has done a great job in shielding passengers from engine noise, road noise and traffic noise. At least inside the Limited model the cabin is very quiet.

Ford Everest, which is sold mainly in Asia, comes in three main types. The low-end is the Rp 218.8 million, four by two XLT model with manual transmission and cloth upholstery.
A little bit up, there is the Rp 244 million XLT model with an automatic transmission and cloth upholstery. Four by four is an option across all models, but the Limited only comes with automatic transmission.

The dashboard is the same as that which you would find in a Ranger. The indicators are familiar and very easy to read. The automatic gear selector is floor-mounted, but the handbrake is located underneath the dashboard, beside the steering column instead of on the center console.

As it was such a long vehicle, we had no reason to complain about leg space. There is plenty of it. Ford has designed the rows of seats like a theater, so that even the people sitting in the third row can enjoy an unobstructed view of the road ahead. Headroom is also plentiful, even for the unfortunate ones who have to take the third row.

The unfortunate? Yes, because the floor is so high back there that third row passengers basically have to sit with their feet higher than their stomachs. To add to their suffering, there are no headrests in the third row, as more headrests would block the driver's rear view.

So, the second recommendation for the next generation of Everest would be to lower the floor panel right behind the middle row.
It would also be nicer if the driver's seat, which is otherwise very supportive, was height-adjustable so that Indonesians of an average height, could still see the leading edge of the hood. A larger footrest for the left foot in the automatic gear model would be much appreciated, too.
There are plenty of electronic features. The backup sensor beeps noisily each time you reverse, but certainly assists the driver.

Talk about comfort, the world's number one truck maker has certainly accomplished what had seemed impossible with Everest. They tuned the suspension and made it a very comfortable passenger car, despite its tough look.
The rear axle is still connected to the chassis by leaf springs, but, honestly, even those who sat in the third row did not feel weary after our one-hour trip from Jakarta to Bogor. Even a day trip did not bore those participating in our test drive.
We especially liked the independently controlled air condition outlets for all rear seats, which provided a cool environment for all, at all times.

The Performance

Besides the platform, Everest also shares Ranger's engine and powertrain. When we first opened the hood, the truck's legacy was obvious. Pipes and cables were everywhere. This is another area that Ford may want to improve. Other cars have these pipes and cables more neatly arranged and discreetly covered.
Surprisingly, the engine sound when the hood is lifted is still very civilized.
Its look aside, the engine is a potent one. During our test drive, it never hesitated, even when pushed very hard. If you keep the RPM above the 2000 mark, you will certainly enjoy the power boost from the intercooled turbocharger.

We had no problem overtaking other cars when traveling on the Jagorawi toll road, although we wished the automatic transmission would not change to a lower gear as often as it did when we floored the throttle. The big tires seem to stick to the pavement. We did not feel any excessive swaying or rolling during normal cornering.
Like driving the other tall SUVs, however, you should avoid abrupt lane change -- a dangerous habit that many of our drivers seem to be so reluctant to abandon.

Despite the powerful engine, fuel consumption is still very acceptable for a vehicle of this size. We did not run a formal test, as fuel economy depends on too many variables. Suffice to say, we filled the tank with Rp 60,000 worth of diesel fuel, which got us to Bogor, Bukit Sentul and back to Jakarta -- with still enough fuel in the tank for another day of city trips.

Everest's safety features include two air bags for the driver and the front passenger, three-point seat belts for every passenger and an Antilock Brake System (ABS). The rear brakes still use the drums, but we found the car's capability to stop in time to be very reliable.

Everest's turning circle is amazingly small for its size, and the power steering gives sufficient feedback to the driver.

The final word

There is no question about it, Everest is in a class of its own. It is bigger and more spacious than the Isuzu Panther, its closest competitor. Its comfort is on a par with the Kijang Krista, but it has a lot more going for it.

It has room for everyone, and it is a joy to drive. Take a manual transmission version to Puncak Pass, and you will surely have a lot of fun.
At the same time, Everest can also serve as an economical workhorse, as long as you have a driver to find the parking space for it while you go about your work.

source : Nitza Arbi and Zatni Arbi, The Jakarta Post

Komentar :

ada 2 comments ke “Space for Everyone in the New Ford Everest”
Keith said...
pada hari 

A good and fair review, we love ours after just three months .. though as you say a driver is needed to find a parking space big enough for it ..

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pada hari 

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